Day One: Special delivery
Two huge boxes were carried from the driveway to the backyard about 20 yards from Lake Minnehaha, dropped and left unopened. I walked the length of the fourteen-foot box, then stopped to tug at it. Too heavy for me to move an inch, I moved on to tugging at its seams. The heavy-duty staples made it hard for me to make an opening to peek inside, but with persistence, I had the boxes opened and the smaller parts laid out in the yard. Overwhelmed, I decided to watch another You-Tube how-to video and ice my knee. My knee throbbed from a torn meniscus, and surgery wasn’t for another three weeks, but I convinced myself I could put this Hobie Wave together in the yard—even if it had to be all by myself—but the hulls of this little sailboat were too heavy for me to lift and my knee screamed with pain when I tried to push them. Feeling defeated, I turned toward the lake and daydreamed about sailing the two and a half miles across the surface.
Day Five: Help Has Arrived
An important factor in having a spouse who travels for a living is knowing when they have rested enough and completed the tasks they had in their minds while gone before asking them for help with a special project. Especially with something like putting a sailboat together from a box! Patience paid off, and he watched the You-Tube video and, with directions in hand, moved the hulls in place and we began. Sweat dripped down my forehead, signaling the pain in my knee was intense, but I wasn’t going to stop. I had the best help ever, someone who could tackle putting a thirteen-foot sailboat together and not get overwhelmed with You-Tube instructions that leave out small but important parts and written directions that would only be useful for a seasoned sailor, which we are not! I re-learned some knots, and he fastened the hardware to the mast and the crossbars, and then we worked together for the assembly. Not knowing if my knee could take to the lake, we set the sailboat up in the yard to make sure everything was in working order. Not bad for some rookies!
Day Seven: Water Ready
A slight breeze hardly ruffled the lake’s water, but it would be enough to take her for a spin and get my sea legs back…or sea leg back. Slowly, everything I remember from living aboard the Western Star and having my little Sunfish sailboat came back to me. I had never sailed a catamaran before today, but in the light wind, she felt familiar. Her sail spoke to me, suggesting I turn slightly to fill her with the breeze that changed directions, or when I looked up to see if her sail was wrinkled, it would tell me the sail battens weren’t tight enough. It’s the little things that I started to recall that amazed me the most after all these years. About seventy yards away, I saw little ripples on top of the water and knew a gust of wind was coming. A moment later, the sail filled and we gained speed. The wind, fresh air, and sun seemed to hug me and whisper, “We’ve missed you,” making me want slightly stronger winds in the coming days, so I could sail farther across the lake. But I knew I had the perfect wind to allow me to know her, get used to her movements, and the lake, like how the wind direction will change in an instant!
Day Fifteen: Freedom
I recall a passage I wrote in Girl Sailing Aboard the Western Star: It was one thing to follow the herd of Sunfish sailboats at camp, and another to be on the ocean. Currents are a big factor, taking me in unexpected directions, and the wind is much stronger than the breeze we had on the lake where there also were no rolling waves. More to risk out here if I were to capsize. There isn’t a camp counselor nearby to make sure I can flip it back over, and the current would probably carry me away much faster with a sail and mast in the water. Sailing all alone, the only sounds are those of the waves slapping against the empty, light hull; the wind swishing in the sail; and the small halyard line slapping against the mast. Freedom.
All these years later, I am still that kid on a little sailboat, attuned with nature. Only now it’s back on a lake, but I feel the sense of freedom and to be able to unplug from the crazy world around me.
I hope you can find your “freedom” —unplug and enjoy life. If you want to read my adventures as a young girl aboard the Western Star, it’s one way to go sailing with me.
A Name: “Her” we have thought of two names: Sailey or Hobie-Won Kenobi. Other names haven’t popped up yet. Do you have any suggestions?